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  1. #1

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    20+ years experience playing acoustic, alone or with other acoustics. And more recently some solo jazz guitar. Volume is not an issue, as I control dynamics with my hands.

    Got a covid strat and now when pandemic is over, joined a funk/rnb/soul band for fun. Rather loud electric piano, drums, bass, a singer. Need some advice from more experienced electric players.


    Right now I play mostly clean or edge of breakup rhythm guitar. Say a song varies between clean not too loud funky chord fragments, single note bubble parts, and some more muscular country arpeggio stuff. I struggle with understanding best way to control dynamics on the electric.

    How do you control volume and tone in this setting? Ride the volume dial throughout the song? Set the amp to something (what?) and control the pick attack? Step on a pedal?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I ride the volume control and the pickup switch. To me the neck pickup has the best tone but for the muscular country twang you could switch to the bridge or middle pickup.
    In most strats the "Quack"-positions (in between, two pickups at once) are a little quieter – or rather do not cut through the mix as the single pickups. You could use that also to go from rythm (e.g. neck and middle pickup) to warm (neck pickup) or twangy (middle or bridge pickup) leads.
    A strat also reacts very well to picking dynamics. If all that doesn't get you what you want you could try a boost or compression pedal set to a slight boost. Compression is very often used in 80s and 90s kind of strat tones – personally I have no experience with that.
    Personally I mostly use a tele for funk and ride the volume knob. If I need a little bit more I step on the boost function of my Tech 21 Fly Rig which became my main rig since using in-ear-monitoring. The boost is also drive the preamp a bit harder which will get you some compression anyway.

  4. #3

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    I use 2 channel amp whenever possible and 2 drive pedals - one of them set low in gain just working as a booster

    Then on clean channel I use amp volume that lets me play chords on 6-7 guitar volume knob. For single note comping I turn guitar to 10.

    Solos with booster on to get chrunchy on clean channel or switch to amp drive and the other pedal for juicy lead tone.

  5. #4

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    I use the EP Booster pedal with my single coil electrics. Basically leave it on all the time. Might be just the thing to solve your issue of cutting through.

    Struggling with strat volume in funk band-64ef5101-c7a1-41c0-8409-6b3448260ba1-jpeg

  6. #5

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    Strats usually have that iconic sound, which is lots of treble but very little mid. Human ears hear mid-range tones much better. If you can turn up the mids you will be heard much better.

  7. #6

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    Actually, dynamics on an electric guitar (IME) can work pretty much like on an acoustic instrument, if you have the amp set right, just digging in should result in a more muscular sound, as you say. Also, IME, the use of light gauge strings can compromise this ability.

    Switching between pickups is an old thing: they used to call that "lead and rhythm settings", but I'm not a fan because I often don't want to change the character of the sound I've chosen for a particular song.

    The "Dyna Amp" setting on the Roland Cube amps is pretty useful - you just leave it engaged the whole time (edit: usually on a very low setting) and adjust your attack accordingly. There was (is?) also a pedal, apparently, called the Boss DN 2 DynaDrive.

    Good luck with your experimentation and why don't you post something so we can see what you're shooting for?

    PS EQ pedals are underrated
    Last edited by Peter C; 10-10-2021 at 05:36 PM.

  8. #7

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    I play with my foot on a volume pedal. Hard to do for long standing up, though. Eventually, the adjustment becomes unconscious.

    One thing I like is that it decouples intensity from volume. So, you can pick softly and have it be loud, or the opposite.

  9. #8
    Lots of great input, thank you all! It seems there are lots of approaches… but reading this I realized maybe I’m setting amp too quiet. I’ll try next rehearsal to set it a lot louder than I think it should be, that might give me more dynamic range by playing softly.

    Have some pedals in the cupboard but want to figure out this dynamic first.

  10. #9

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    Yes, try cranking the amp then reducing guitar volume to clean up. Pretty standard procedure.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    Good luck with your experimentation and why don't you post something so we can see what you're shooting for?
    Ok so here is a song we do
    . It's quite orchestrated on the record but for this band, the guitar parts I'm working on:

    - clean skank on 2&4
    - some slippery chords emulating the vocal harmonies
    - fat clean sustained arpeggiated chords
    - the Johnny Cash like single note stuff
    - there is a chord wash with leslie thing, I probably just invent some more Johnny Cash stuff
    - at the end there is a sustained descending melody that probably needs some gain

    Loads of fun, but I totally need to learn how to work the electronics :-)

  12. #11

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    If possible, dial in (substantially) more mids in your sound. Without mids and especially when played on a Fender BF or SF amp, a Strat will drawn in the band mix. It feels like you lack volume, but you actually lack the right frequencies.

    *edit: ah sgosnell mentioned this too. Try it, you’ll thank us later!

  13. #12

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    I find it helpful to have a boost, so that way I have a setting that will help naturally quieter parts, but have the amp set so that I can control the volume with the picking dynamics. A tube screamer or similar set low is handy too, and that can be seperate from your real gain sound.

    It’s also worth learning to balance your volume acoustically. Somethings, such as muted picking, fingerpicking parts or filigree lead parts will tend to be naturally quieter, but if you can play percussive rhythm quietly as well as loud, for instance, that’s going to make things easier. So maybe practice the same rhythm parts quiet and loud. Just a thought.

    Mids are the most important frequency for an ensemble guitar.

  14. #13

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    Most any decent EQ pedal will help fatten up single coil guitars, especially Strats.

  15. #14

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    I am pretty confident it's about dailing more mids in your tone.

  16. #15

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    The way I do it is no volume, boost, or compression pedals and no turning of knobs or flipping switches while playing. I treat the instrument as a given and adjust my playing to produce different tones and dynamics.

    My success with this approach is to invert my thinking about volume and dynamics. Instead of setting everything up for average normal playing and then figuring out a means to play louder when needed, I set everything up for the loudest I will play and then play softer when loud is not needed. I control dynamics and volume by suppressing my playing firmness, then naturally release that suppression to play louder.

    It is a habit, learning to suppress for soft and release for loud, but it is liberating to not have to break concentration from the music to make adjustments.

    When I was starting up with the guitar as a kid, we all started on acoustic guitars; it was the end of the 60s and the acoustic guitar was still very much a foundation for popular music, and playing dynamically with picking firmness was directly natural. A decade or two later whole generations of new guitarists started out on electric guitars, playing their first notes through fuzz and over drive pedals, which compress and absorb playing variation at the source (the pick on the strings) and promote using a device for variation between the guitar and the amp (pedals). Most of them may have never played a clean note or chord since day one, never learning how to vary their playing level at the source. Fortunately for some of us, when we got electric guitars it was fun for a while to make uncontrolled noise, but we learned the mechanics of dynamic control with actual music to be the same as always - just variation in playing firmness with clean tone.

    The real question is where do you set "normal playing feel" within the dynamic range? The solution for me was to set it at the top and suppress everything else down softly from there... to the degree that there was any residual variation I wanted my best to be playing normally at the top when it's "forward" and where it's "on display".

    Try turning up the amp so naturally normal firm playing gets your loud sound, then play gently for soft sounds, and see if your acoustic background intuitions find, recognize, and feel success.

  17. #16

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    What kind of amp are you using? The 30w amp that is perfect for a jazz gig probably won't cut it in a funk/r&b band unless the entire band is conscious of dynamics. Generally I would bring a 50-60w amp or bigger to such situations. Is your PA system up to the task of mic'ing a smaller amp?

    Is it possible that the rest of the band is just too loud? That is... is the rest of the band conscious of the overall "band sound" and adjusting THEIR volume levels appropriately? Is there one person who is just too loud and everyone else is getting loud to match?

    What would you say is the level of musicianship overall?

  18. #17
    Ok, did next rehearsal. Just some more context. It’s a similar situation to Got out and played - Lessons Learned with a seasoned pro drummer leading/coaching a group of people like me who played for several years but have day jobs.

    At the rehearsal space there are Peavey classic 30 and Fender hotrod deluxe amps. So this time I plugged straight into the hotrod, added some mids, set the volume to what I thought it should be. Then I forced myself to increase volume 20% more.

    Much better! The hotrod has way more headroom and I could get a usable dynamic range by dialing down the guitar slightly and pick softer/harder. I got good funky whacka whacka on the mid pickup, rockabilly with mid and bridge, and some soft chords with mid and neck. So that problem is solved, just need to shed some more with this amp at volume.

    Another can of worms is to make the hotrod sound a bit nicer, the cleans are super clean to the point of being sterile. I guess that’s why people call it a pedal platform…

  19. #18

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    It's been such a long time since I played thru a Hotrod....Anyway, a Strat thru this amp is kind of ideal for your purposes, as I remember. I would try playing around with the balance between volume and drive, normal as against bright. There are two inputs but I don't remember which does what, but I'm sure some nice guy on YouTube will enlighten you. As stated previously, turn the amp up and guitar volume down; you shouldn't need any pedals (BIG rabbit hole, that one).

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    the cleans are super clean
    .
    They will break up if you turn up some more.


    Just kidding – try fiddling with the drive channel if you want that. With the gain low it will do the slight drive thing (with less bass than the clean channel – which is a good thing IMHO – I always turn bass all the way down on these).

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Ok, did next rehearsal. Just some more context. It’s a similar situation to Got out and played - Lessons Learned with a seasoned pro drummer leading/coaching a group of people like me who played for several years but have day jobs.

    At the rehearsal space there are Peavey classic 30 and Fender hotrod deluxe amps. So this time I plugged straight into the hotrod, added some mids, set the volume to what I thought it should be. Then I forced myself to increase volume 20% more.

    Much better! The hotrod has way more headroom and I could get a usable dynamic range by dialing down the guitar slightly and pick softer/harder. I got good funky whacka whacka on the mid pickup, rockabilly with mid and bridge, and some soft chords with mid and neck. So that problem is solved, just need to shed some more with this amp at volume.

    Another can of worms is to make the hotrod sound a bit nicer, the cleans are super clean to the point of being sterile. I guess that’s why people call it a pedal platform…
    I play a strat, and often find myself playing through either a HR Deluxe or DeVille in rehearsal studios. These are somewhat tricky amps to dial in -- they can sound really good without pedals, but that they have to be turned up quite loud for those tones to kick in (which I find impractical). So I generally play through them with an OD pedal always on and use volume on the guitar to control overall volume and distortion.

    I mostly use a Fulltone OCD for this, and go into the clean channel on the amp (which sounds a lot better than the drive channel in most people's opinions). The OCD is one of those pedals that you can set for a fairly dirty sound when the guitar volume is all the way up, and still be able to clean up the sound when you bring the guitar volume down (especially with single coil pickups), and is relatively neutral in terms of voicing/eq (i.e., it doesn't have the Tubescreamer mid-bump). On the amp, I typically set the "volume" (gain) fairly low/clean (maybe 3-4), and the master volume so that with the pedal on and the guitar volume cranked I've got my solo volume/sound. On the amp, I set the mids pretty high (more than half way) and dial the treble and bass way down. I then typically take care of fine-tuning tone with the tone control on the pedal and the guitar.

    I've played through Classic 30's as well, though not in a while. My recollection is that they're voiced with more midrange than the HR series amps, and take less extreme settings with the tone controls, but a similar approach with gain/volume settings and OD pedals.

  22. #21

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    Get yourself a Peavey Bandit 65 with the original Scorpion speaker. Put in it on the clean channel. Guarantee you will cut through the mix without having to use any pedals.

    Those who know, know.

  23. #22

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    Old school Peavey Bandit is a midrange beast.

    I described this as a 'poor man's Polytone' and the FILTHY ARISTO SCUM on Jazz Guitar Chat were all like 'what kind of disgusting peasant would require a poor man's Polytone?'

    and then I sent them to Madame Guillotine.

    Vive la Revolution!

  24. #23
    Fulltone OCD
    I have a HoneyBee and a FuzzFella that I'm planning to bring into the equation at some point. Both clean up really well, I just need to mess around with them and the amp more to understand what works.

    Really appreciate all the advice!

    Peavey Bandit
    I'm traumatized from first time I tried to play guitar in a band... I was around 20 and the resulting experience led me to drop the electric thing (and band memebers) and embark 20+ years of solo acoustic playing. Too many painful associations with the Peavey Bandit there....

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    I have a HoneyBee and a FuzzFella that I'm planning to bring into the equation at some point. Both clean up really well, I just need to mess around with them and the amp more to understand what works.

    Really appreciate all the advice!



    I'm traumatized from first time I tried to play guitar in a band... I was around 20 and the resulting experience led me to drop the electric thing (and band memebers) and embark 20+ years of solo acoustic playing. Too many painful associations with the Peavey Bandit there....
    OK. Get a Boss GE-7 then.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    OK. Get a Boss GE-7 then.
    Boss pedals work as advertised. I use a number of them but not the GE-7. If you have the patience to learn parametric the old Ibanez EQs are great;

    Ibanez PQ9 Parametric EQ | Reverb

    Forget it I guess. They doubled in price in the last year. A Boss would be fine.
    A strat is the only electric I have. They can sound 'plinky' but there are ways around it. My amp is a Roland Street Cube EX. 50 watts. One problem is the lack of low low end.